For decades, doctors have recommended that we take an aspirin first thing in the morning to thin our blood. This, they’ve told us, will prevent heart attacks and stroke. But a group of Chinese researchers found that the time of day you take that aspirin could actually put you at risk for stroke. And early in the morning may be the worst time to take it.
A stroke can happen at any time. But it occurs more frequently or unexpectedly in the morning. That’s when platelets clump together more than at any other time of the day or night. When you take an aspirin early in the morning, its protective blood-thinning effect occurs during the day. Not early in the morning when your blood needs thinning.
Aspirin is least protective during the night and early morning when you’re not physically active. This lack of activity contributes to platelet aggregation — the clumping of platelets that causes heart attacks and stroke. If you feel you have to take an aspirin a day, at least take it before bed. That’s when its ability to thin your blood is at its peak.
The real question is, do you need aspirin at all? Just about everyone knows that it has side effects, including ulcers, heartburn, and nausea. And there are some great alternatives.
Start with warming spices, such as curry, cayenne, ginger, and oregano. These tasty spices warm you because they increase blood circulation. They’re nature’s natural blood thinners.
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Fish, flax, and berries all thin your blood as well. So do a number of supplements, including omega-3 fats and vitamin E.
Before you take another aspirin, ask yourself whether or not you really need it. You don’t have an aspirin deficiency. Stick with these alternatives. Most are very safe to take with other drugs. But if you’re concerned, ask an integrative physician to evaluate all the supplements and drugs you’re taking for interactions. It’s possible they can help wean you off of other drugs — not just aspirin.
And if you insist on taking aspirin, be sure to take it at night. An aspirin first thing in the morning won’t protect you from a stroke.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
“Time of taking aspirin can have an effect on the frequency of occurrence of stroke,” Chinese Medical Journal, 2009,vol 122, No 9.